KKR Don't Need No Stinkin' Leverage (Other Government Cheese OK)

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It must be a measure of the times that a firm that regards itself with such favor would deign to even consider participating in something so base as a government recovery program, much less discuss it on the record. Or perhaps Mr. Kravis is just a lot more loose-lipped than he used to be. That's saying something.
Still, it is hard to blame KKR for wanting to play. Accepting free money handed out without thought to risk or reward by dimmer bulbs is, after a certain sense, what private equity is all about. Kravis argues the point (unconvincingly).

KKR could take advantage of the infrastructure stimulus plan but is less interested in buying banks or their troubled assets, co-founders Henry Kravis and George Roberts have told the Financial Times.
"I think there may be some programmes where it will be appropriate for us to partner with the government," Mr Kravis said. "I think one area in particular that I think is a very big need and where we will have opportunities to participate is in infrastructure."
The Obama administration has committed hundreds of billions of dollars to infrastructure spending as part of its plan, ranging from road and bridge construction to investments in broadband and "green" energy.
Mr Kravis said the firm was looking at the public-private investment partnership and other initiatives. But the partners expressed caution about an overly opportunistic approach.
"Simply buying a pool of assets [through] a highly levered vehicle because a government is willing to give you more leverage than the markets and just sitting there and running off the assets and giving the money back to your partners is not what we do," Mr Roberts said.

Of course this is totally ridiculous. This is exactly what private equity firms do and if the government had been offering buyout artists even a tenth of a percent lower rates than the leveraged finance groups that multiplied like rabbits over the last fifteen years the Treasury would now labor under a balance sheet bloated with large swaths of now-private businesses in or approaching default.
KKR sets out stall for role in stimulus package [The Financial Times]

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